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200 Best African Quotes And Proverbs For Wisdom And Inspiration

Africa is a land of mystery.

African quotes and African sayings have wisdom and inspiration in them!

But, as the saying goes, 'Knowledge without wisdom is like water in the sand'. So, if you are filled with pride, then these proverbs will show you the one thing that you need - the correct path!

African proverbs are known for giving important life lessons in simple messages. African proverbs and meanings have helped many people all over the world in many different situations. So, let's look at these African proverbs. We have listed some of the best African proverbs and sayings that will make you think and inspire you.

For more such articles, take a look at these other articles black history inspirational quotes and African American quotes.

Inspirational African Quotes And Proverbs

Here are some African proverbs on finding inspiration when you need it. Take a look at this list of inspiring African quotes below.

1. "Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it."

- Akan Proverb.

2. "A low-class man will just talk; deeds are the hallmark of a gentleman."

- Swahili Proverb.

3. "There are no shortcuts to the top of the palm tree."

- Cameroonian Proverb.

4. "Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped."

- African Proverb.

5. "The water of the river flows on without waiting for the thirsty man."

- Kenyan Proverb.

6. "If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm."

- African Proverb.

7. "No matter how hot your anger is it cannot cook yams."

- Nigerian Proverb.

8. "Don't procrastinate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing"

- Ethiopian Proverb.

9. "A chattering bird builds no nest."

- Cameroonian Proverb.

10. "Those who end up accomplishing great things pay attention to little ones."

- Mali Proverb.

11. "There is no elephant that complains about the weight of its trunk. No elephant is burdened by the weight of its tusks."

- Kenyan Proverb.

12. "By the time a fool has learned the game, the players have dispersed."

- Ashanti Proverb.

13. "One who has to yet learn to walk cannot climb a ladder."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

14. "When a needle falls into a well, many people will look into the well, but only a few will be ready to go down after it."

- African Proverb.

15. "It is better to be poor when one is young, rather than becoming poor at old age."

- Kenyan Proverb.

16. "Even the king of the forest, the lion, protects himself against flies."

- Ghanaian Proverb.

17. "No person is born great; great people become great when others are sleeping."

- African Proverb.

18. "A roaring lion kills no game."

- Ugandan Proverb.

19. "The chicken that can dig for food will not sleep hungry."

- Congolese Proverb.

20. "Crawling on your hands and knees has never prevented any person from walking upright."

- Kenyan Proverb.

21. "One who possesses much wisdom has it in the heart, not on the lips."

- Ugandan Proverb.

22. "One may have two legs, but that does not mean one can climb two trees at the same time."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

23. "A wise man who knows the proverbs of the land reconciles difficulties."

- Ashanti Proverb.

24. "A bird does not change its feathers because the weather is bad."

- Kenyan Proverb.

25. "One who is willing to bathe with cold water doesn’t feel the cold."

- Fipa Proverb.

26. "It is the crooked wood that can show the best sculptor."

- African Proverb.

27. "During times of peace in the country, the chief does not carry a shield."

- Ugandan Proverb.

28. "A man who pays respect to the great paves his own way for greatness."

- African Proverb.

29. "A great leader is an ordinary person with extraordinary wisdom."

- Malawian Proverb.

30. "In the moment of crisis, the wise build bridges and foolish build dams."

- Nigerian Proverb.

African Spirituality Quotes

African quotes and proverbs are helpful in their advice.

Take a look at these African quotes and African proverbs on wisdom and spirituality.

31. "Advice is like a stranger; if he’s welcome he stays for the night; if not, he leaves the same day."

- Malagasy Proverb.

32. "God has created lands with lakes and bountiful rivers for man to live. And the wide deserts so that he can find his soul."

- Tuareg Proverb.

33. "A hyena does not change its spots even if it moves to a different forest."

- Malawian Proverb.

34. "Teeth do not see poverty."

- Kenyan Proverb.

35. "Do not blame God for creating the tiger, just thank Him for not giving it wings."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

36. "Knowledge without wisdom is just like water in the sand."

- Guinean Proverb.

37. "He who knows not one thing knows another."

- African Proverb.

38. "If you pick up one end of a stick, you also pick up the other."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

39. "He who's destined for power does not have to fight for it."

- Ugandan Proverb.

40. "No matter how much the world changes, cats will never lay eggs."

- Kenyan Proverb.

41. "Don't call the forest that shelters you a jungle."

- Ghanaian Proverb.

42. "A flea can trouble a lion much more than a lion can trouble a flea."

- Kenyan Proverb.

43. "If you offend, then ask for a pardon; if offended forgive."

- African Proverb.

44. "Even as the archer loves the arrow that flies, so too he loves the bow that remains constant in his hands."

- Nigerian Proverb.

45. "The only time you will see a quiet snake is when it has swallowed another snake."

- Kenyan Proverb.

46. "A stranger does not skin a sheep that is paid as a fine at a chief's court."

- African Proverb.

47. "A healthy person who keeps begging for food is an insult to a generous farmer."

- Ghanaian Proverb.

48. "He who burns down his house is aware why ashes cost a fortune."

- African Proverb.

49. "Anyone who urinates in a stream should be warned because any of his relatives may drink from the water."

- Kenyan Proverb.

50. "When the roots of a majestic tree begin to decay, it spreads death to the branches."

- Nigerian proverb.

51. "Rain beats the leopard's skin but it does not wash out the spots."

- African Proverb.

52. "A doctor who invoked a storm on his people cannot prevent his own house from destruction."

- Nigerian Proverb.

53. "The day before yesterday and yesterday aren't the same as today."

- Kenyan Proverb.

54. "When the village chief himself goes around inviting people to a meeting, know there is something wrong with the system."

- Malawian Proverb.

55. "Make some money but don’t let money make you."

- Tanzanian Proverb.

56. "When I think of the others' misfortunes, I forget mine."

- Algerian Proverb.

57. "If you are building a house and a nail breaks, do you stop building or do you change the nail?"

- Rwandan Proverb.

58. "You always learn a lot more when you lose than when you win."

- African Proverb.

59. "Madness does not govern a country; discussion does."

- African Proverb.

60. "The pillar of the world is hope."

- Nigerian Proverb.

61. "It is better to walk than curse the road."

- Senegalese Proverb.

62. "If your only tool is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail."

- Gambian Proverb.

63. "The earth is a beehive, we all enter by the same door."

- African Proverb.

64. "If you damage the character of another, you damage your own."

- African Proverb.

65. "Where there are experts there will be no lack of learners."

- Swahili Proverb.

African Proverbs About Family & Friends

These African proverbs providing wisdom about your closest family and friends are surely the one thing you need to keep them close. Take a look at our list of proverbs from Africa below.

66. "If you see that a town respects a calf, then cut the grass and feed it."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

67. "Between true friends, even water drunk together is sweet enough."

- African Proverb.

68. "Affairs of the home should not be discussed in the public square."

- Kenyan Proverb.

69. "Unity is strength, division is weakness."

- Swahili Proverb.

70. "A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

- Kenyan Proverb.

71. "Milk and honey have different colors, but they share the same house peacefully."

- African Proverb.

72. "To be without a friend is to be poor indeed."

- Tanzanian proverb.

73. "In a family, if you have somebody who is troublesome it is the family members who are more worried than the troublesome member."

- African Proverb.

74. "If relatives help each other, what evil can hurt them?"

- African Proverb.

75. "An army of sheep led by a lion can defeat an army of lions led by a sheep."

- Ghanaian Proverb.

76. "Telling a secret to an unworthy person is like carrying grain in a bag with a hole in it."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

77. "Return to old watering holes for more than water; friends and dreams are there to meet you."

- African Proverb.

78. "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

- African Proverb.

79. "Dine with a stranger but save your love for your family."

- African Proverb.

80. "When the shepherd comes home in peace, the milk is sweet."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

81. "If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven't spent the night with a mosquito."

- African Proverb.

82. "We have not inherited this land from our ancestors; rather we have borrowed it from our children."

- Kenyan Proverb.

83. "Show me your friend and I will show you your character."

- African Proverb.

84. "When brothers fight to the death, a stranger inherits their father’s estate."

- Igbo Proverb.

85. "When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground."

- African Proverb.

86. "However far the stream flows, it never forgets its source."

- Nigerian Proverb.

87. "If you heal the leg of a person, do not be surprised if they use it to run away."

- African Proverb.

88. "A family is like a forest, when you are outside it is dense, when you are inside you see that each tree has its place."

- African Proverb.

89. "Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you."

- African proverb.

90. "Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable."

- Kenyan Proverb.

African Proverbs About Women

Women are the cornerstone of society and African proverbs celebrate women as an important part of the family.

91. "A mother cannot give birth to something bigger than herself."

- African Proverb.

92. "How gently glides the married life away, When she who rules still seems but to obey."

- Kenyan Proverb.

93. "A woman’s polite devotion is her greatest beauty."

- African Proverb.

94. "If you marry a monkey for his money, the money will go away and the monkey will stay the same."

- Egyptian Proverb.

95. "She is beautiful; she has love, understands; she respects herself and others; everyone likes loves, and honors her; she is a goddess."

- African Proverb.

96. "He that has never traveled thinks that his mother is the only good cook in the world."

- Kenyan Proverb.

97. "A diamond does not lose its value due to lack of admiration."

- African Proverb.

98. "An old woman  is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb."

- African Proverb.

99. "When a bitter woman takes over the house, the family she rules is doomed."

- African Proverb.

100. "If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate a woman, you educate a whole family."

- African Proverb.

101. "If men swear that they want to harm you when you are asleep, you can go to sleep. If women say so, stay awake."

- African Proverb.

102. "A home without a woman is like a barn without cattle."

- African Proverb.

103. "A women’s beauty is not hidden in her face."

- African Proverb.

104. "The old woman looks after the child to grow its teeth and the young one, in turn, looks after the old woman when she loses her teeth."

- Akan Proverb.

105. "When sleeping women wake, they move mountains!"

- African Proverb.

African Proverbs About Life

African quotes and proverbs tell us to enjoy life.

African sayings and proverbs on life should be read by everyone. These proverbs carry great wisdom and meaning for us all.

106. "Not everyone who chased the zebra caught it, but he who caught it chased it."

- South African Proverb.

107. "If you are filled with pride, then you will have no room for wisdom."

- African Proverb.

108. "A bird that flies off the earth and lands on an anthill is still on the ground."

- Igbo (Nigerian) Proverb.

109. "A spider’s cobweb isn’t only its sleeping spring but also its food trap."

- African Proverb.

110. "A cutting word is worse than a bowstring, a cut may heal, but the cut of the tongue does not."

-African Proverb.

111. "When the rhythm of the drumbeat changes, the dance steps must adapt."

- Namibian Proverb.

112. "Only a fool tests the depth of a river with both feet."

- African Proverb.

113. "How easy it is to defeat people who do not kindle fire for themselves!"

- Kenyan Proverb.

114. "Wisdom does not come overnight."

- Somali Proverb.

115. "Where you sit when you are old shows where you stood when you were a youth."

- African Proverb.

116. "Though the lion and the antelope happen to live in the same forest, the antelope still has time to grow up."

- Ghanaian Proverb.

117. "Do not spend the evening in a house where you cannot spend the night."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

118. "The best way to eat an elephant in your path is to cut him up into little pieces."

- African Proverb.

119. "You must attend to your business with the vendor in the market, and not to the noise of the market."

- Beninese Proverb.

120. "Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off."

- African Proverb.

121. "Once you have been tossed by a buffalo, a black ox looks like a buffalo."

- Kenyan Proverb.

122. "If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents."

- African Proverb.

123. "Rain does not fall on one roof alone."

- Cameroonian Proverb.

124. "No one became wealthy because they broke a holiday and no one who gained weight because they broke a fast."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

125. "He who thinks he is leading and has no one following him is only taking a walk."

- Malawi Proverb.

126. "Knowledge is like a garden. If it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested."

- African Proverb.

127. "A leader in the community without a pot belly is a stingy man."

- Nigerian Proverb.

128. "Other people's wisdom prevents the king from being called a fool."

- Nigerian Proverb.

129. "Slander by the stream will be heard by the frogs."

- Mozambican Proverb.

130. "When the right-hand washes the left-hand and the left-hand washes the right-hand, both hands become clean."

- Kenyan Proverb.

131. "He who beats the drum for the mad man to dance is no better than the mad man himself."

- African Proverb.

132. "The big game often appears when the hunter has given up the hunt for the day."

- African Proverb.

133. "The king who shuts his eyes during famine in the land will soon see ancestors."

- Nigerian Proverb.

134. "You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla."  

- Congolese Proverb.

135. "If two wise men always agree, then there is no need for one of them."

- Zambian Proverb.

136. "Even the best dancer on the stage must retire sometime."

- African Proverb.

137. "Wood already touched by fire is not hard to set alight."

- Akan (Ghanaian) Proverb.

138. "A quarrelsome chief does not hold a village together."

- Malawi Proverb.

139. "To agree to have dialogue is the beginning of a peaceful resolution."

- Somali Proverb.

140. "The rainmaker who doesn't know what he's doing will be found out by the lack of clouds."

- Ugandan Proverb.

African Proverbs About Children

Take a look at these African sayings on children. These quotes are African proverbs about children and their growth.

141. "No matter how tall your grandfather was, you have to do your own growing."

- Kenyan Proverb.

142. "We desire to bequeath two things to our children; the first one is roots, the other one is wings."

– Sudanese Proverb.

143. "A baby cannot be heard crying in his mother’s womb."

- African Proverb.

144. "One should punish a child the first time he comes home with a stolen egg. Otherwise, the day he returns home with a stolen ox, it will be too late."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

145. "By crawling a child learns to stand."

- West African Proverb.

146. "When you show the moon to a child, it sees only your finger."

- Zambian Proverb.

147. "The young bird does not crow until it hears the old ones."  

- Tswana Proverb.

148. "It is the duty of children to wait on elders and not the elders on children."

- Kenyan Proverb.

149. "Counsel and advice him, if he refuses to listen, then let adversity teach him."

- Ethiopian Proverb.

150. "It takes a village to raise a child."

- African Proverb

151. "Parents give birth to the body of their children, but not always to their characters."

- African Proverb.

152. "A child is like an axe; even if it hurts you, you still carry it on your shoulder."

- Bemba Proverb.

153. "When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him."

- Ashanti Proverb.

154. "Children are the reward of life."

- Congolese Proverb.

155. "The laughter of a child lights up the house."

- African Proverb.

156. "Everybody loves a fool, but nobody wants him for a son."

- Ivorian Proverb.

157. "The worlds of the elders do not lock all the doors; they leave the right door open."

- Zambian Proverb.

158. "If a child washes his hands, he could eat with Kings!"

- African Proverb.

159. "A debt between children born by the same mother is paid in a clever way."

- Kenyan Proverb.

160. "Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone."

- Moroccan Proverb.

Proverbs & Quotes About African Beauty

These are some quotes and African proverbs on beauty. There is much beauty in Africa and these proverbs reflect just that.

161. "Ugliness with a good character is better than beauty."

- Nigerian Proverb.

162. "There is no beauty but the beauty of action."

- Moroccan Proverb.

163. "No matter how beautiful and well-crafted a coffin might look, it will not make anyone wish for  death."

- African Proverb.

164. "The skin of the leopard is beautiful, but not his heart."

- Baluba (Congolese) Proverb.

165. "There is always a winner, even in a monkey’s beauty contest."

- West African Proverb.

166. "Three things cause sorrow to flee; water, green trees, and a beautiful face."

- Moroccan Proverb.

167. "The one who loves an unsightly person is the one who makes him beautiful."

- African Proverb.

168. "The most beautiful fig may contain a worm."

- Zulu Proverb.

169. "There are many colorful flowers on the path of life, but the prettiest have the sharpest thorns."

- African Proverb.

170. "Birds sing not because they have answers but because they have songs."

- African Proverb.

171. "Anyone who sees beauty and does not look at it will soon be poor."

- Yoruba Proverb.

172. "Try this bracelet: if it fits you wear it; but if it hurts you, throw it away no matter how much it sparkles."

- Kenyan Proverb.

173. "It's those ugly caterpillars that turn into beautiful butterflies after seasons."

- African Proverb.

174. "Beautiful discourse is rarer than emerald, yet it can be found among the servant girls at the grindstones."

- Egyptian Proverb.

175. "If there is character, ugliness becomes beauty; if there is none, beauty becomes ugliness."

- Nigerian Proverb.

176. "Despite the beauty of the moon, sun, and the stars, the sky also has a threatening thunder and striking lightning."

- African Proverb.

177. "Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter."

- African Proverb.

178. "It is only a stupid cow that rejoices at the prospect of being taken to a beautiful abattoir."

- Zambian Proverb.

179. "Although the snake does not fly it has caught the bird whose home is in the sky."

- African Proverb.

180. "Judge not your beauty by the number of people who look at you, but rather by the number of people who smile at you."

- African Proverb.

African Proverbs About Love

African quotes about love and African proverbs on love might just be what you need. Take a look at these thought-provoking proverbs below.

181. "Love is like a baby: it needs to be treated tenderly."

- African Proverb.

182. "Do not call to a dog with a whip in your hand."

- Zulu Proverb.

183. "What you help a child to love can be more important than what you help him to learn."

- African Proverb.

184. "If there is cause to someone, the cause to love has just begun."

- Senegalese Proverb.

185. "One does not love if one does not accept from others."

- Nigerian Proverb.

186. "If love is a sickness, patience is the remedy."

- African Proverb.

187. "To love someone who does not love you is like shaking a tree to make the dew drops fall."

- Congolese Proverb.

188. "Love, like rain, does not choose the grass on which it falls."

- South African Proverb.

189. "Don’t try to make someone hate the person he loves. For he will go on loving but he will hate you."

- Senegalese Proverb.

190. "Let your love be like the misty rain, coming softly but flooding the river."

- Liberian Proverb.

Quotes About Africa

Here are some fascinating quotes about Africa.

191. "I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses."

- Nelson 'Madiba' Mandela.

192. "There are as many Africas as there are books about Africa -- and as many books about it as you could read in a leisurely lifetime. Whoever writes a new one can afford a certain complacency in the knowledge that his is a new picture agreeing with no one else's, but likely to be haughtily disagreed with by all those who believed in some other Africa. ... Being thus all things to all authors, it follows, I suppose, that Africa must be all things to all readers."

- Beryl Markham, "West With The Night,' 1942.

193. "The strange thing about Africa is how past, present and future come together in a kind of rough jazz, if you like."

- Ben Okri, 'Magical Ben Okri casts a spell on his readers,' Interview with Nima Elbagir, CNN, 2011.

194. "Africa has her mysteries, and even a wise man cannot understand them. But a wise man respects them."

- Miriam Makeba, 'Makeba: My Story,' 1988.

195. "Few can sojourn long within the unspoilt wilderness of a game sanctuary, surrounded on all sides by its confiding animals, without absorbing its atmosphere; the Spirit of the Wild is quick to assert supremacy, and no man of any sensibility can resist her."

-  James Stevenson-Hamilton, first warden of South Africa's Sabi Nature Reserve.

196. "Why is it you can never hope to describe the emotion Africa creates? You are lifted. Out of whatever pit, unbound from whatever tie, released from whatever fear. You are lifted and you see it all from above."

- Francesca Marciano, 'Rules Of The Wild: A Novel Of Africa,' 1998.

197. "You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself."

-  Malcolm X, Speech at Ford Auditorium, 1965.

198. "Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer’s paradise, a hunter’s Valhalla, an escapist’s Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one. To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just home."

- Beryl Markham, 'West With The Night,'1942.

199. "The African mind has a lot to contribute, not only to world understanding of the arts, but to an understanding of spiritualism. That is the contribution Africa will make to the world of the future - an injection of sanity into the environment of the universe itself."

- Fela Kuti, Nigerian music pioneer.

200. "For Africa to me... is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place."

- Maya Angelou, African-American Poet.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for African Quotes and Proverbs, then why not take a look at civil rights quotes, or women's history quotes.

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Kidadl Team

The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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